Matt K: Top Albums of 2010

Philadelphia, PA

For me, 2010 was a year of pop. Unfortunately (or fortunately, from the perspective of Noise Narcs’ editorial leadership), a lot of that pop actually came out in 2009 (Gaga, David Guetta) or was attached to otherwise brutally unlistenable album material (Katy Perry, Ke$ha). According to iTunes’s remorseless statistical record, I have listened to “I Gotta Feeling” at least 49 times since last fall. Perhaps more damning, I have even managed to absorb Cobra Starship’s “Good Girls Gone Bad” (feat. Leighton Meester) on no fewer than 7 occasions. Yes, I realize that these facts can and probably should be used in some complex mathematical way to negate all my choices below. But the point is that in 2010 more than most years, I found myself in search of raw pop delights — undiluted, unapologetic, and generally uncomplicated morsels of catchiness. Even my favorite ‘serious’ albums, I think, are closer to this end of things than usual. So, consider this list with care: the material here is both possibly insipid and highly infectious.

top ten albums

10Broken Bells: Broken Bells

I tried hard to find another contender to fill this slot, but it wouldn’t have been honest. The two big singles were iPod fixtures all summer, and the melancholy, extra-Shinsy second half eventually got under my skin, too.

Standout Track(s): The High Road, Citizen

09Nicki Minaj: Pink Friday

Sure, her guest spots for Kanye, Rihanna, Usher etc. might be more memorable than the filler on here. And sure, there’s, um, a lot of filler. But the sheer force of Nicki’s personality on the top tracks conquers the day. Game over, bitch! Gatorade, wet towel!

Standout Track(s): Your Love, Blazin

08Karen Elson: The Ghost Who Walks

Don’t let the Jack White wife thing fuck up your expectations. These antique, rustic sing-alongs are perfectly happy to stand all on their own.

Standout Track(s): The Ghost Who Walks, Lunasa

07Robyn: Body Talk

I’ve got some news for you. Air-punchers have feelings too. Sugar Ray Robynson delivers a packed assembly of undeniable dance breaks, and if you look closely enough, you might even find Snoop.

Standout Track(s): Fembot, Hang With Me (and see top 10 songs)

06The Morning Benders: Big Echo

Pop dessert from the mid-60s, coated in a warm layer of rich modern production. A marvelously unhurried delight that will glue your eyes shut and keep your throat moist.

Standout Track(s): Wet Cement, Cold War (and see top 10 songs)

05Dr. Dog: Shame, Shame

In a world that overvalues the sleek, the hard, and the knowing, Dr. Dog’s shaggy comforts grow more indispensable with every album. I’d steal a bike from the Second Mile, too, if that’s what it took to keep listening.

Standout Track(s): Shadow People, Jackie Wants A Black Eye.

04Arcade Fire: The Suburbs

This album only turned the corner for me about two weeks ago, on re-re-listening. But what a turn, and what a corner! In a year, I’ll probably be outraged at my past self for the injustice of burying it at #4.

Standout Track(s): Ready To Start, Empty Room (and see top 10 songs)

03Phosphorescent: Here’s to Taking It Easy

Wasn’t this the record Jeff Tweedy was supposed to make at some point in his career? Uh, sorry, but this is better than Summerteeth. The southern-accented chords are wonderful, the human ache is real, and the woozy helplessness of the whole will leave you flat on your back.

Standout Track(s): Nothing Was Stolen (Love Me Foolishly), I Don’t Care If There’s Cursing (and see top 10 songs)

02The Mynabirds: What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood

I take a back seat to no man in pissing merrily on contemporary musicians who attempt to outdo their lofty forebearers from the Golden Age. But besides Joni, I don’t think there’s a ’60s or ’70s female singer-songwriter with a better sound than Laura Burhenn. iTunes’s stats tell me that this was, by far, my most-played album of 2010 — just edging out Cobra Starship.

Standout Track(s): What We Gained in the Fire, We Made A Mountain (and see top 10 songs)

01Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Fantasy

Talk about finding bravery in your bravado. As fiery, bodacious, and magnificently unashamed of itself as a meteor entering the atmosphere (or those other interstellar objects, Selita’s breasts in the 35-minute “Runaway” movie), Kanye’s beautiful fantasy explodes in a blaze of… Kanye. How can one man’s egoism be so consistently fascinating? Well, it helps when you have the rest of rap’s best on your team, you’re not afraid to put the pussy in a sarcophagus, and you have a thing for Washington Irving (“so much head, I woke up in Sleepy Hollow.”) But none of it would matter without the music — a collage of miraculous samples, swirling beats, and vocal hooks that don’t quit. Think: the churning riff that carries “Gorgeous”; the contemplative final minute of “Power”; the Bon Iver club mix in “Lost in the World”; the meandering soul of “Devil in a New Dress.” Uh, uh… I love it though, you know?

Standout Track(s): Everything. I don’t even mind Chris Rock on “Blame Game.” Not always, anyway.

honorable mentions

Janelle Monae //The ArchAndroid; Rihanna // Loud; Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti // Before Today; Jonsi // Go; Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. // Horse Power EP

similarity to overall top ten: 36.33%, 4 matches

top songs

Almost all my favorite songs this year happened to come from my favorite albums. If you think that’s because I only listened to about 10 new records with any real purpose, then A) shut up and B) you obviously are unacquainted with a Mr. Taio Cruz. (Yes, “Dynamite” is an honorable mention). I have eclectic taste, damn it. No, not really.

10LCD Soundsystem, “I Can Change”The whole bottle of LCD is always too much for me, but these five gushing minutes are a perfect dose.

09Phosphorescent, “The Mermaid Parade”God damn it Amanda, oh, god damn it all.

08Wendy, “Teenage Dream”They’re from South Street West! And they take Katy Perry to a new level of beautiful skintightjeansines

07Robyn, “Dancing On My Own”Rocky Marciano himself wouldn’t be ashamed to punch-dance along to this self-pitying propulsion engine.

06Arcade Fire, “We Used To Wait”Just your standard-issue Arcade Fire micro-epic. Looks “Building Downtown” and “Tunnels” in the eye and doesn’t flinch.

05The Morning Benders, “Excuses”Majestically gooey enough to be worthy of that Reese’s commercial

04Kanye West, “Dark Fantasy”Kanye and Jon Anderson of Yes are a musical marriage made on Mount Olympus, or Asgard, or some other eagle’s nest of pomposity and grandiloquence. Can we get much high-er? I don’t think so.

03Nicki Minaj, “Your Love”Makes me wish I were the type to keep a hundred grand in a rubber band.

02The Mynabirds, “Numbers Don’t Lie”Eat your heart out, Dusty Springfield. A great tune for a desk concert, too

01Kanye West, “Runaway”I-I-I-I did it, all right, all right, I admit it.
Now pick your next move, you can leave or live with it.

similar voters suggested albums

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *